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Offbeat weekend escapes from Delhi

Binsar boasts of picturesque views and more than 200 species of birds
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/ Amit_85

Escaping the hustle and bustle of the capital on a weekend could probably be the most refreshing thing to do. While Shimla, Mussoorie, Jaipur and even Agra are popular choices when considering a short escape from Delhi, here are some offbeat places that also deserve a visit.


Tottering at an elevation of 7250ft, Chakrata is a little cantonment town on the way to Yamunotri. A strong scent of pine cones hangs in the air. This small sleepy town has no busy bazaars or noisy restaurants to distract from the breath-taking views of the Garhwal Himalayas. Its spectacular cloud cover, even in summers, will charm the most jaded traveller.

Best time to visit: February-June; September-December


Picturesque Binsar, 26km from Almora, is a sanctuary protecting 45 sq km of area. You may spot a leopard or some barking deer, but many people come here for the 200-plus species of birds. On clear days, the Himalayan panorama is breath-taking – from the tower at ‘Zero Point,’ Binsar’s summit (2420m), you can see Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Panchchuli and more. Hiking trails wend throughout the lush forest.

Best time to visit: October-December

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Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/ FS6 Photography

Perched high on a forest-covered ridge, this tiny village has lovely panoramic views of distant snow-capped peaks, fresh air and a relaxed atmosphere. Mahatma Gandhi found Kausani an inspirational place to write his Bhagavad Gita treatise Anasakti Yoga in 1929, and there is still an ashram devoted to him here. Baijnath village, 19km north, has an intriguing complex of 12th-century sikhara-style temples in a lovely location shaded by trees, with other shrines in the nearby old village.

Best time to visit: September-January


Image courtesy: ©Mohammad Yunus

The joy of lakes enfolded by hills, of birding hotspots, of forests and leopard tales, of some unparalleled quietude… multiplied by seven. Over the years, Sattal’s seven lakes have become synonymous with camping, walks, birdwatching, adventure, and just getting away from it all. And they do live up to their promise.

Best time to visit: March-June; September-November


Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/ Dr Ajay Kumar Singh

At its busiest, you would find about 150 people but more than 350 species of birds here. Barely 17km from Nainital, Pangot is a village surrounded by thick forests, quiet hamlets, streams and walking trails. The rare and beautiful bird species that inhabit these woods attract enthusiasts from around the world. With only nature as its attraction, Pangot offers a much more peaceful holiday than its famous cousin, Nainital.

Best time to visit: March-June; September-November


Satoli is a pretty-as-a-picture cottage named after a lone partridge that caught the owner’s eye when he first visited. Time seems to stand still as one sits around enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, when it takes a respite to gaze at the snow peaked Himalayan ranges in the far distance and lush-green forested valley right opposite as the ever-changing shapes of flaky clouds keep unveiling their myriad charms.

Best time to visit: Throughout the year


Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/ Svetlana Eremina

Located about 200 km from Jaipur and 30 km from Kota, this hamlet almost has a dreamy touch to itself. Lying in a beautiful narrow valley, with a fort on a hill overlooking it, Bundi’s charm is in its rural simplicity. It is claimed to be once the capital of the Hadoti kingdom of Hada Chauhan clan, legendary Prithviraj Chauhan being one of them. Just like Jodhpur, Bundi’s houses also have a noticeable blue colour to them – to keep houses cool during summer.

Best time to visit: October-April

This article was first published in September 2018 and has been updated since.